Discomfort Food: Avoiding Emotional EatingPosted: November 20, 2012 in Healthy Eating by Craig Primack MD FACP
During weight loss in Chandler or Scottsdale, prevent overeating by controlling emotional hunger
Hunger isn’t the only thing that causes us to eat. On bad days, when responsibilities seem to pile up without reprieve, our emotions can get the better of us. When we feel anxious, depressed or even bored, it can weaken our resolve to stick with healthy habits, leading to an unfortunate bout of overeating.
As you lose weight in Chandler or Scottsdale, you’ll learn how to change many aspects of your lifestyle. You’ll begin exercising and eating a more nutritious diet under your weight loss doctor’s supervision. Emotional eating is a common problem during weight loss, but is just one more unhealthy habit you can learn to break during your program.
Though emotional eating can make you feel helpless against your emotions, you can find ways to keep it from sabotaging your diet. Because emotional eating is often an unconscious reaction to stress or negative emotions, the first step in breaking this habit is to recognize the difference between emotional eating and genuine, physical hunger.
Emotional hunger will:
- Come on suddenly. Physical hunger develops slowly and will never take the form of a sudden craving. Emotional hunger will make you feel like you need to eat the food you crave immediately, while true hunger feels less urgent.
- Crave a particular food. When we’re truly hungry, our minds are open to possibilities; when we’re emotionally hungry, we tend to seek solace in specific unhealthy comfort foods.
- Make us eat beyond fullness. Even when we feel full, emotional hunger can cause us to keep eating.
- Make us feel guilty. You shouldn’t ever regret a healthy meal, but will likely look back on emotional eating choices with regret.
For each of us, there are certain situations that are guaranteed to set us off. One of the best ways to keep emotional hunger at bay is to recognize when it’s most likely to appear. If you notice the signs of emotional hunger above, take a minute to think about what may have been the trigger. By identifying the situations most likely to cause you to eat emotionally, you can stay careful during potentially problematic times.
When you begin feeling emotional hunger or enter a situation likely to trigger it, take control of the situation by:
- Diverting your attention. Get your mind off everything that has to do with food. Get out of the kitchen and go for a walk, read a book or call a friend. Do something productive or engaging that will take your mind completely off your cravings. You can even make a list of alternate activities and consult it any time you feel an emotional eating urge.
- Eating something healthy. Though “comfort food” has an unhealthy connotation, you can find comfort in foods that aren’t chock full of sugar and fat. Instead of junk food, try eating a healthy OPTIFAST treat or a fresh fruit and take comfort in the fact that you had a tasty treat and are sticking to your diet.
Emotional eating is a difficult hurdle for many people who try to lose weight in Chandler and Scottsdale, but you don’t have to give in to its temptations. Have any other strategies helped you overcome emotional hunger during weight loss? Share them in the comments below.